Nigerian banks have kept posting record numbers of profit despite the economic challenges ushered in by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), yesterday announced its audited results for the full-year ended December 31, 2020, recording impressive growth across its top and bottom lines.
UBA reported growth of 10.8 per cent and 28 per cent in gross earnings and profit after tax (PAT) respectively.
According to the report, the bank’s gross earnings grew by 10.8 percent to N620.4 billion, compared to N559.8 billion recorded in 2019.
Its profit before tax (PBT) rose by 18.4 per cent to N131.9 billion, from N111.3 billion in 2019 while PAT grew faster by 27.7 per cent to N113.8 billion compared to N89.1 billion recorded in 2019. The bank’s total assets also grew by 37.0 percent to N7.7 trillion for the year under review.
Operating expenses grew by 10.1 per cent to N249.8 billion, as against N217.2 billion in 2019, well below average inflation rate of 13.2 per cent for the year, thus reflecting the bank’s cost effectiveness.
For shareholders reward, the bank proposed a final dividend of 35 kobo for every ordinary share of 50 kobo. The final dividend, which is subject to the affirmation of the shareholders at its annual general meeting (AGM), will bring the total dividend for the year to 52 kobo as the bank had paid an interim dividend of 17 kobo earlier in the year.
The report further showed that UBA recorded a remarkable 24 per cent growth (to N2.6 trillion) in loans to customers, while customer deposits increased by 48.1 per cent to N5.7 trillion, compared to N3.8 trillion recorded in 2019. This reflected increased customer confidence, enhanced customer experience, successes from the ongoing business transformation programme and the further deepening of its retail banking franchise.
The Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said the year 2020 was important for UBA Group, as it gained further market share in most of its countries of operation.
“We ended a very challenging year on a reassuring note. The bank recorded double-digit growth in both our top and bottom lines, as gross earnings and after-tax profit grew by 10.8 per cent and 27.7 per cent to N620.4billion and N113.8 billon respectively. Return on equity was 17.2 per cent, even as our cost-to-income ratio moderated to 61.3 per cent.
“Our earnings per share of N3.20 is a 26.8 per cent growth from the preceding year, as we continue to ensure maximum value creation for our highly esteemed shareholders.”
He explained that despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic globally and across the 23 countries the UBA Group operates in, UBA created N519.0 billion additional loans as it continued to support its customers and their businesses.
“Customer deposits grew 48.1 per cent to N5.7 trillion, driven primarily by additional N1.8 trillion in retail deposits. As a global bank, we remain well capitalized and determined to successfully drive financial inclusion on the continent through our innovative products and vast network. Our capital adequacy and liquidity ratios came in at 22.4 per cent and 44.3 per cent, well above the respective regulatory minimum of 15.0 per cent and 30 per cent,” Uzoka added.
He said the growth has been as a result of the bank’s transformation programme, which has “expanded market share considerably across the geographies where we operate and are consolidating our digital banking leadership in Africa.”
The Group Chief Financial Officer (GCFO), Ugo Nwaghodoh, said the growth was also spurred by interest income.
“The persistent low interest rate environment in 2020 exerted significant downward pressure on margins. Notwithstanding, our interest income for the year grew by 5.7 per cent (to N427.9 billion), driven by 8.2 percent and 7.5 per cent year-on-year growth on interest income on loans and investment securities respectively.
“Our interest expense declined by 8.0 per cent (to N168.4billion) driven largely by a 34.2 per cent decline in interest expense on customer deposits in our Nigerian operations, bringing down the Group’s cost of funds to 2.9 per cent, from 4.0 per cent in 2019,” he said.
Nwaghodoh said the growth in loan book reduced the bank’s NPL ratio.
“We have prudently stepped-up our reserves for loan impairments, hence the 37.4 per cent growth to N22.4billion, implying a 0.9 per cent cost of risk. These reserves provide adequate cover for impairments and should help minimize the need for further reserves in the current year, in view of the improving global operating environment. Our NPL ratio has declined to 4.7 per cent (from 5.3 per cent in 2019), driven by growth in the loan book, robust credit risk monitoring architecture, and payment of past due obligations (PDOs).”
He added that as Nigeria continues to see signs of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic led by the resumption of economic activities globally, increase in consumer spending, and continued progress on vaccine deployment, UBA is well- positioned for greater synergy across the group.